WINDHAM — The chairwoman of the Retail Adult-Use and Medical Marijuana Establishments Task Force says the fact that the group is one-sided is “on the (Town) Council.”
All six of the community members on the nine-member task force have a financial interest in the industry, whether as the owner of a marijuana-related business or as a licensed medical caregiver. Applications for such committees are reviewed by the Appointments Committee and voted on by the Town Council.
The council created the task force to review state laws and Windham’s zoning map regarding marijuana establishments and then make recommendations to the council.
Task force Chairwoman Maggie Terry began the group’s meeting Monday, Jan. 28, by responding to comments recently made by committee member and Town Councilor Dave Nadeau, who called the task force “biased” and “extremely aggressive.”
“If getting right into the charge of the council is aggressive, I am guilty as charged. If the task force is too biased, then that is on the council. I don’t know what the council expected if they put only on the committee members of the public who are invested in the business,” she said.
Terry proposed that one or two of the task force members resign so that new members, who are “on the other side,” could be appointed. She believed it to be “the only way our committee will get a fair hearing from our council members.”
Task force Vice Chairman Will Hawkins Jr. disagreed. “Everybody had their opportunity (to apply.) They’re going to show up if they want to show up. We can’t keep moving it back and continuously dragging this on and on,” he said.
“How do we address issues on the committee if we don’t have anybody on the committee that’s on the other side?” Terry asked.
Michael Duffy of the Long Range Planning Committee then said that he was “on the other side,” in addition to Nadeau, who was not present at the meeting.
The task force Monday went on to focus on creating a definition for “caregiver retail store.” The term is included in state law but not defined, said Kristin Collins of Preti Flaherty, which represents the town.
In August, the council considered, and ultimately rejected, a potential ordinance change that would have added a definition of retail medical marijuana storefronts.
The proposal defines a caregiver retail store as a “retail sales establishment operated by a registered medical marijuana caregiver for the sale of marijuana and marijuana products to qualifying patients, which establishment may also include facilities for the conduct of any other activities authorized to be performed by a medical marijuana caregiver pursuant to 22 M.R.S. Sec. 2423-A(2), as may be amended from time to time.”
Many task force members took issue with the inclusion of the word “retail,” thinking it could limit such operations to commercial areas and exclude caregivers who are currently operating small businesses out of their homes. They discussed other possible terminology.
Charles Boehm proposed calling it “a medical cannabis shop or storefront where a registered caregiver is going to be allowed to display their wares legally.”
“‘Retail’ comes with a sense of adult use. I suggest you call it a medical marijuana caregiver storefront. It’s plain, simple, direct and tells you exactly what it is,” said Shaw Dwight.
The committee decided to further review the definition as written in the potential ordinance change and continue discussion at its next meeting, which will be held on Feb. 11.
Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at email@example.com.
Task force member Shaw Dwight makes a comment at the Monday night meeting.
Task force Vice Chairman Will Hawkins Jr. disagreed with Chairwoman Maggie Terry about having current members step down to allow those with opposing viewpoints to join.